TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Nicole Johnson as the 35th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators. Johnson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org).
Johnson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 19, when she was advised to drop out of college and return home to live a calmer life. She was told to choose a stress-free career and to never have children, but she decided to prove them wrong. She went on to earn two post graduate degrees and won Miss America in 1999 and also had a healthy child.
She now serves as a board member for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and speaks to civic groups, visits schools and shares her inspiring story at local functions. Over the past 12 years she's helped raise more than $26 million for diabetes research and programs. Johnson participates in the Students with Diabetes Program at USF, assisting both adults and youth, providing insightful information that could help each individual manage their respective situations.